Sanctuary And Government

1757 Words8 Pages
Sanctuary and Government The church has historically provided sanctuary for those in need of food and shelter. However, events in Central America in the 1980s tested the federal government’s tolerance of this practice as a wave of refugees flooded into the United States illegally. The United States has functioned under the premise of a separation of church and state, with much of the emphasis favoring the federal government. Typically, while operating under the legal authority of the state, the church has few concerns. However, when ministry activities cross into federal jurisdiction, friction ensues, especially when caring for the homeless or refugees. With a history of tension between the churches’ sanctuary policy and the state, the parameters of American immigration policy defined a contemporary conflict with the Church, necessitating the need for the Church to seek both the ability to provide people sanctuary, and a positive rapport with the state. Historical Context The founding of this country came about as result of tension over religious freedom. The founders sought to establish a nation where all people could exercise their faith freely. Worship practices and unique interpretations of Scripture are typically not a threat to government authority. However, worshippers might cross a line when the practice of their faith includes obeying biblical injunctions to care for the stranger when that stranger is either in the country illegally, or violating federal law by refusing to report for duty through the selective service. The church faced this obstacle with the events surrounding the Vietnam War. In the mid to late 1960s, a number of churches were part of a sanctuary movement motivated by a strong anti-Vietnam sentiment. O... ... middle of paper ... ...g a path of rebellion rather than seeking the face of God is certainly ironic considering the church is making these choices. Because of these choices, the government stepped in to try to speak to this illegal activity, and did so with little regard for those who found themselves as refugees. Although the conflicts of the 1980s have been resolved, the tension remains. Currently, the nation faces the same strain between the church and state, with no complete resolution in sight. The church can, and should operate within the confines of the law. Nevertheless, there may be occasions when the church must obey the voice of God, rather than the direction of the government. As God’s people strive to listen to His voice, He may call upon them to obey His word, regardless of the consequences, leaving the church in a position of governmental compliance with godly independence.
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